Tag Archives: Friday Find

9 Holidays Celebrated Throughout December and January

Canada is a country that is proud of and thrives on diversity. To celebrate and highlight this, we have put together a list of holidays that happen throughout December and the beginning of January.

Saint Nicholas Day

Date: December 6th

The legendary figure of St. Nicholas is derived from Nicholas of Myra who officiated as a bishop in 4th century Greece. During his lifetime he developed a reputation for gift-giving by putting coins in other people’s shoes, which accounts for many of today’s Christmas traditions that involve leaving gifts in shoes or boots.”

Read more here.

 Fiesta of Our Lady of Guadalupe

Date: December 12th

 It is believed that a man named Juan Diego encountered the Virgin Mary twice in Mexico City, on December 9 and December 12 in 1531. According to legend, Mary told Juan to ask the bishop to build a church on Tepeyac Hill. However, the bishop needed proof of Juan’s encounter and asked for a miracle. Juan returned to the hill to see roses in a spot where there were previously cacti. When Juan Diego returned, he showed the roses to the archbishop and also revealed an image on his cloak of the Lady of Guadalupe. The bishop was convinced of the miracle and built a church in honor of the event.”

 Read more here.

Saint Lucia’s Day

Date: December 13th

A festival of lights is held in honour of St.Lucia, one of the earliest Christian martyrs who was killed by the Romans in 304CE because of her religious beliefs.

 “In Scandinavian countries each town elects its own St. Lucia. The festival begins with a procession led by the St. Lucia designee, who is followed by young girls dressed in white and wearing lighted wreaths on their heads and boys dressed in white pajama-like costume singing traditional songs. The festival marks the beginning of the Christmas season in Scandinavia, and it is meant to bring hope and light during the darkest time of the year.”

Read more here.


Date: December 12th to 20th

“Hanukkah, also known as Chanukah, is the Jewish Festival Of Lights. The date it’s celebrated changes each year, depending on the Western calendar, but it usually falls in November or December. The celebration dates back to two centuries before Christianity began, and lasts for eight days. The word ‘Hanukkah’ means dedication, and honours one of the greatest miracles in Jewish history.”

 Read more here.


Date: December 21st to January 1st

“The Pagan holiday called Yule takes place on the day of the winter solstice, around December 21 in the northern hemisphere (below the equator, the winter solstice falls around June 21). On that day (or close to it), an amazing thing happens in the sky. The earth’s axis tilts away from the sun in the Northern Hemisphere, and the sun reaches its greatest distance from the equatorial plane.“

 Read more here.

Christmas Day

Date: December 25th

“The name ‘Christmas’ comes from the Mass of Christ (or Jesus). A Mass service (which is sometimes called Communion or Eucharist) is where Christians remember that Jesus died for us and then came back to life. The ‘Christ-Mass’ service was the only one that was allowed to take place after sunset (and before sunrise the next day). Thus, we get the name Christ-Mass shortened to Christmas. Christmas is now celebrated by people around the world. It is a time when family and friends come together and remember good things they have. People and especially children also like Christmas as it’s a time you give and receive presents.”

 Read more here.


Date: December 26th to January 1st

“The name Kwanzaa is derived from the phrase “matunda ya kwanza” which means “first fruits” in Swahili. Each family celebrates Kwanzaa in its own way, but celebrations often include songs and dances, African drums, storytelling, poetry reading, and a large traditional meal. On each of the seven nights, the family gathers and a child lights one of the candles on the Kinara (candleholder), then one of the seven principles is discussed. The principles, called the Nguzo Saba (seven principles in Swahili) are values of African culture which contribute to building and reinforcing community among African-Americans. Kwanzaa also has seven basic symbols which represent values and concepts reflective of African culture. An African feast, called a Karamu, is held on December 31.”

 Read more here.


Date: December 31st

“Omisoka is the last day of the year (New Year’s eve) in Japanese. Its origin is Misoka which is the last of the month, Omisoka consist Misoka and “O” which means big. There are many customs for Omisoka in Japan, Toshikoshi-soba, Osouji, Toshinoyu and more.”

 Read more here.

Three Kings Day/Epiphany

Date: January 6th

“Also known as Epiphany or Theophany, Three Kings Day is a Christian feast day that celebrates the revelation of God in his Son as human in Jesus Christ. The observance had its origins in the eastern Christian churches and was a general celebration of the manifestation of the incarnation of Jesus Christ. It included the commemoration of his birth; the visit of the Magi, all of Jesus’ childhood events, his baptism in the Jordan by John the Baptist, and even the miracle at the wedding at Cana in Galilee.”

 Read more here. 

At the YW, celebrate and honour culture and diversity in everything we do.  We’re proud to serve a community that people of all backgrounds and cultures call home. This holiday season, ask your friends or co-workers what they celebrate this time of year and what their traditions are.

Written by Valerie Chalm, former Co-Chair of Promotions & Marketing Committee, Niagara Leadership Summit for Women

The Perfect Gift

We are bombarded by advertisements, displays, salespeople, and online ads of ‘the perfect gift.’

It’s all a bit much, isn’t it?

Or do you love the hustle and bustle of the season? Worrying what to get and how you’re going to find the time to even get it?

Do you love the sleepless nights filled with dreams of recipes that fail, presents that are returned, and family that doesn’t make it home for the holiday?

Do we lose something, in this commercialized version of Christmas, or do we gain what we wait for all year, to be with our families, months of planning, all over in hours of endless preparations and a few minute meal.

Is this, what Christmas was meant to be? Is this, what Christmas felt like when you were a child? Is it filled with excitement and wonder and magic and awe of the beauty that surrounds you in the lights and the giant trees, and the bigger than life presents that Santa brought for you? Is this, what Christmas still feels like to you, today?

Or can we agree, maybe, that as we’ve grown older, our families bigger, and our hearts maybe a tiny bit smaller, (I mean, how often do you really see the neighbors anyway, they don’t need a gift from you)…can we agree that maybe, as the old saying goes, “Maybe Christmas,” he thought, “doesn’t come from a store. Maybe Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more.”

Perhaps, the Grinch was on to something.

I’ve always been in awe of the true meaning of Christmas. Whatever your belief may be, Christmas is filled with hope and majestic wonder. Just look into the eyes of a child, or a loved one. I dare you not to smile.

Joy. Laughter. Love. Excitement. Extravagance. Tradition. Closeness. Giving.

Just a few of the words that describe Christmas for me.

But if I’m honest, I’ve lost some of the magic, too.

It’s easy to do. I think that in our fast paced, need it now, have to get the best of the best, world, we forget that the true meaning of Christmas is love. That the true spirit of Christmas is in giving, but not just giving because we have to for the many reasons that we’ve been lead to believe, but giving because it comes from our heart. Giving that means something to us, from deep within us, because it gives us joy.

Stressing over what to get everyone and spending more money than we have does not bring us joy, let’s be real here.

Joy is in the little moments of putting up the tree with our family, baking with the kids, getting that gift off the top of our niece’s or nephew’s Christmas list because we can afford it, and we know how happy they will be playing with that toy, with us. It is in the moments of, regardless of a Christmas tree with presents under it, or food on the table, we are surrounded by people who love us, exactly as we are.

Christmas is a time of togetherness.

This looks different for everyone. This could look like family and friends or neighbors and community. It could look like many presents and a table full of food or no presents and an empty belly. Or any combination of these.

There is one ingredient that can’t be taken away, despite our outside circumstances, and that ingredient is love.

We all have it, and we can all give it. We all want it and we can certainly all use it.

It might take a little humility and vulnerability, I know. It might take biting your tongue, and loving them anyway, despite what they’ve done. It might take a phone call that you’ve not made in a long time or a visit you’ve been dreading all year.

But if we can try to remember, even if just for a moment, that the perfect gift is love. That the reason for the season is hope. For a better tomorrow, for a better me, and a better you. For a better world, one that remembers love.

If we can try to all be gracious givers this holiday season. To only give what we have, with love and joy. To be peaceful and patient, with kindness that comes from a heart filled with love.

Love doesn’t look like what we bring, it looks like showing up for someone. Our families, friends, and perfect strangers.

The things just simply don’t matter when you are surrounded by people you love, or at least like, somewhat. Try to like them a little more this year.

May the true joy of Christmas surround you this holiday season ❤️

There is something that has challenged me these past couple of years. I like to give, to family and friends, but sometimes I look around and I see that my family and friends are quite blessed. So, I look for ways to give outside of the usual presents, sometimes at the expense of gifts for friends and family, and sometimes extra, depending on my own financial circumstance.

I’ve challenged myself, and I’d like to challenge you, as well.

There are many organizations in our region. The YWCA is of course one of them. These organizations need items on an ongoing basis. I know this can look like a lot of work and maybe even complicated, I know it did for me at first. Even overwhelming. But over time I’ve learned a thing or two.

Poverty has many faces in our region. Causes are no longer just national organizations that we click a button on the webpage and donate our annual allotment of donation money, though this is of course a great way to give back. When we look around our cities, we see the faces of people that have come upon hard times. I know that you see them.

But if you’re like me, you might like to know that you’re truly making a difference, and may have no idea who to give to.

Can I challenge you to make it meaningful? To you, and maybe even your family?

We can give to an organization or organizations that mean something to us, whether past or present.

For example, though I’ve never used the services of the YWCA, it has meaning to me because there are many times that I have been in a place where I’ve thought of an emergency shelter as an option. To give back one year, I learned that they have a list of needs on their website and I donated formula and diapers. I had no idea this was an item that was needed. I didn’t think about it simply because I don’t have children.

I was challenged once to put one thing that I didn’t need in a box each day for 30 days. I can’t even tell you how much joy it gave me to bring a box of items that I loved, but really didn’t need, to a local thrift shop. Thrift shops give back in big and meaningful ways to the community, and the world. They even gave me a gift in return, a punch card with a discount for the next time I shopped there. I craft, thrift stores are gold mines for items to craft with.

When I was in high school, our grade 9 French class decided to give a family Christmas. This meant buying all the gifts and food for the family’s Christmas. There are a few organizations that do this. I will never forget this experience.

There are many people in need of winter items, hats, scarves, mittens, that you can buy at the dollar store, or donate from home, as well as gently used coats and boots. This is a great way to teach kids to give.

I have been blessed to be a part of a motel ministry that provides food, clothing, and support to those living in the many residential motels in our region. I had no idea that many of our motels are no longer for tourists. The people who live there need everything. Stop by, take a look.

Books can be donated to many organizations, if you happen to like to read, and wanted to pick up a few extra for someone else.

And of course, there are the beautiful red kettles, of an organization that works tirelessly to combat many things, but hunger certainly being an important one of them.

The more I learn about what the organizations in our region do on a daily basis, the more inspired I am to give, based on what has direct meaning to me, or what might be an immediate need in our region right now, such as shelter and a warm meal during the cold months.

If you can’t give money, give time, and vice versa. Be creative. There is something that you have that someone else needs, whether it is time, talent, or treasure.

There are people in need all around us.

Have a wonderfully blessed holiday season.

Friday Find – Adult Colouring Book

I was chatting with my friend the other day and she told me that she had just ordered an adult colouring book for herself online. I asked her why she ordered an adult colouring book (I had recently heard about them online), and she said she was really stressed out and wanted to see if colouring would help relieve her stress.

I find myself stressed sometimes, and I do love art. I really enjoyed drawing and colouring as a child, and maybe it would help relax me too. Will I pay extra for a special “adult” colouring book? I don’t know. Check out this article on them, and tell me what you think!

Friday Find – Listerine Total Care Zero Mouthwash

Recommended by: Donna Shelton

If you are like me, and enjoy that incredible feeling you have just after you get your teeth cleaned and polished….(yes, I am one of those people that loves going to the dentist) here is a little something I recommend – Listerine Total Care Zero mouthwash (picture) – it is amazing, almost as good as a dentist visit.

On the subject of Dentists……I would also like to recommend – Linwell Park Dental Centre – Receptionist Angie, Dentist Dr. Goode, and Dental Hygienist Jennifer – totally awesome quality of service and really nice too!!

Friday Find – Time Machine

Yes, that’s right – my Friday Find this week is a time machine. A time machine named Frado’s Dining Lounge. I have passed Frado’s on many of my bike rides along the Welland Canal and always thought that I have to go there some time. Italian food right by the water – what more could you ask for, right?

It was not until this past Tuesday that I put the “should some time” into action, packed up my husband and made my way to Frado’s. It was the third Tuesday of the month and that means that you get live entertainment along with your Italian food, the Jimmy Marando Swing Band, an excellent group of Niagara musicians. I did not realize just how strange it is for somebody who is U30 or as it turns out anybody U60 to get excited for a night of live swing music. The big, charming room with windows overlooking the canal was packed with senior groups and couples – so much so that part of me wanted to back out of the room right then and there.

I did not realize just how strange it is for somebody who is U30 or as it turns out anybody U60 to get excited for a night of live swing music.

What happened next was worth the momentary awkwardness: As soon as the band started playing the first beats of “Straighten Up and Fly Right”, the dance floor was packed with couples dancing swing steps that could only possibly be so smooth and synchronized after years of dancing through life together. I am talking actual dance moves here – no shaking or wiggling, but instead gracious, light-footed dancing, following the sound of the music.

My grandparents always talked about going to “dances” and here I was – back in the 60s? 70s? at a real dance. I ended up having an unexpected, wonderful night of being brought back to a time when all you needed for a fun night out was some good live music and a dance partner.

It will be unlike anything you have ever experienced (unless you are… well, old) but you should definitely check it out! Third Tuesday of the month – I’ll see you in the time machine on August 18th!

Friday Find: The Ideal Female Body

Lately I’ve been obsessed with Mad Men, which is a television series that takes place in the 1960s. It was super interesting to see what the “ideal female” looked like back then, and what people found most desirable. Back then it was all about the curves, but it wasn’t always that way! Check out this article from Buzzfeed that takes you through 100 years of the ‘Ideal Female Body’. It’s interesting to see how trends change, and then reinvent themselves. But remember ladies (and men), it doesn’t matter what the “trend” or “ideal body” is, make sure you look the way YOU want to and you are happy with yourself inside AND out.

Friday Find – I Know How She Does It!

It’s finally Friday … and that means it’s time for a Friday Find! Our find today comes from the wonderful Crystal, who shared with me a book that might be of interest to our readers! Many of us have probably heard “you can’t have it all”, especially as a woman. Can a woman balance a successful and rewarding career with a happy marriage, all while raising children?

Well, women do it all the time! It’s not hard to believe, and I bet a lot of you do it yourself or know some amazing women who really do seem to have it all! Check out this book “I Know How She Does It” by Laura Vanderkam as she shows you real life hour logs of women who juggle everything at once! It will make for a great summer read, and might inspire you! Remember ladies, we ALL deserve to “have it all”!



Happy Friday everyone! I was listening to the radio this morning when I heard this hilarious story about guacamole. I myself am a HUGE guacamole fan, and yes I will pay extra for it when I’m out at a restaurant. I also love making it at home; I either make a really simple version (just avocados, onion powder, garlic powder, salt and pepper, and lime juice) or actually add diced tomatoes, garlic, onions and cilantro. You really can’t go wrong. Or can you?!


Well, apparently you can! The New York Times posted to Twitter a guacamole recipe … that included peas. Yes, peas. Guacamole with peas?! I don’t know, it sounded weird to me — and apparently I’m not the only one! The New York Times received HUGE outrage online in response to their ‘pea post’, and even President Obama spoke up tweeting:

obama tweet

You must read the articles about the guacamole-pea outrage (here’s one about how some people are defending the pea addition). It’s a great Friday Find and a great reminder that you should probably make guacamole tonight (with or without peas, that’s up to you!).

Happy Friday and Long Live Guacamole!

Friday Find: Mango Body Sorbet by The Body Shop

I came across this delightful product last summer when it first launched and immediately fell in love with it. Consistent with all of their other products, The Body Shop’s mango scent in this sorbet does not disappoint. I highly recommend this body sorbet for the summer time because it is super lightweight! I was really worried that it would be greasy because I had never seen another moisturizer with the same texture. But, I am very happy to say that it absorbs really quickly and doesn’t feel sticky at all, which is never pleasant during a hot or humid summer day. It is enriched with Community Fair Trade organic aloe from Guatemala which makes the sorbet very moisturizing (for up to 24 hours) and lovely for cooling down a sunburn! When I picked up my last bottle in store, the sales associate recommended that I store my body sorbet in the fridge to give it an extra cool boost and WOW. The sorbet itself is already cooling (which is lovely for post-shower moisturizing..in an apartment without air conditioning) but having that extra cooling boost was just heavenly.  I highly recommend stocking up on these lovely treats during their ‘mix and match’ promotions — you definitely can get addicted to these and it’ll get quite pricey if you buy them one at a time!


Friday Find- June 12

Welcome to the Future of Technology!

I have to admit that I am not one who
normally gets excited by new computer technology. This funky addition may have converted me though. Remember every futuristic movie you’ve ever seen where people controlled their computers with sweeping gestures, and finger flicks? Shades of an orchestral conductor, it was mesmerizing. Well, the Leap Motion Controller has made it a reality.

By simply plugging in the interface, the computer can read what your hands are doing, and apply it to your screen, making you your own conductor!

Anything that allows me to channel my inner Sci-Fi geek gets a thumbs up from this girl.

Leap Motion Controller

Friday Find – Friday, May 15th 2015


Recommended By: Carli

Do you love to read? Are you one of those E-reader lovers who has a Kindle, Nook or other reading device? Because I recently discovered a fantastic spot called BookBub!

It’s free to sign up, and each day you are sent anywhere from three to seven books (mostly of notable authors but it’s always nice to discover new ones!) that are either free or $1.99. So far, I have downloaded four and have been super happy with each! It’s very easy AND what a great way to save some money on your summer reading…. Maybe you can find a good use for it elsewhere…like for new sandals or fudgesicles! 😉

You can find their website to sign up here.


Friday Find – Friday, April 17 2015

Pride Movie

Pride is a wonderful true story about a group “Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners” rallying together to collect donations for rural miners in Thatcher-era England. It follows the story of activist Mark Ashton who sympathized with the miners’ plight: “We’ve been through some of the same things you’ve been through. Look, we raised this money because we want to help you and that’s it.”


Friday Find – Friday, April 9th 2015

Dove Beauty Video

We could all use a reminder once in a while to change the way we talk to ourselves. “My teeth are too yellow”, “My skin is so ugly” “I hate my body”. I do it, we all do it. In this video, Dove’s beauty campaign illustrates how nasty those comments sound when said out loud. What are your favourite things about yourself?